Thursday, February 18, 2010

TRAFFIC: Light on Washington Street eastbound in Union Square

Question/Comment: A resident would like to know why the green light on Washington Street heading eastbound into Union Square (coming from Beacon Street direction and stopped across the street from the Sherman Cafe) is so short.  The resident says typically only 4 to 5 cars get through each green light cycle, which can be made worse when cars are parked creating only one lane of traffic, or when traffic coming from Somerville Ave. blocks the intersection.  The resident believes that all the other lights entering Union Square remain green for much longer, and notes that there is substantial traffic coming from this direction on Washington Street, particularly when the Argenziano school is in session.

City Update 2/18/10:  The intersections in Union Square present an extremely complicated traffic flow situation. It is correct that the light on Washington Street eastbound where it intersects with Somerville Ave and Webster Street has a shorter cycle than the other green lights at that intersection.  This is partly because there is heavier traffic volume on Somerville Ave than Washington Street.  Additionally, the controller for the lights at this intersection is also linked to the intersection of Somerville Avenue, Prospect Street and Washington Street slightly further east in Union Square.  Linking these two sets of lights is necessary for traffic flow at both intersections to run smoothly.  Unfortunately, increasing the length of the green light on Washington Street would make these two intersections out of sync and would likely cause traffic to back up considerably at the light at Somerville Ave and Prospect Street, thus blocking traffic from Somerville Ave when its light turns green.

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